Letter: Detention centres breed despair

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The Independent Online
Sir: As a regular visitor to refugees in various prisons and immigration detention centres, including Campsfield House, I see the despair and frustration of these men and women at not knowing what is happening to them, or why ('Six detainees escape after detention centre riot', 7 June).

It is tragic that some people now appear to feel that they have no option but to take drastic action to get themselves heard. Frequent complaints that I hear concern, for instance, people being moved from place to place with no warning or reason, and the lack of any explanation as to why they are being detained in the first place. The minister responsible, Charles Wardle, has talked of the right to seek bail, but in one recent application by a refugee whom I know, bail was set at an impossible pounds 15,000.

Mr Wardle has described the facilities at Campsfield House as first-class, and if he is referring to the amount of barbed wire, high fencing and surveillance equipment, that is certainly true. He also claims that only a small proportion of asylum-seekers are detained. Neither the facilities nor the figures are the issue: the point is the lack of humanity shown by the Government in its use of detention as a deterrent to refugees.

Yours faithfully,

SAM MACKENZIE

London, SW8

7 June

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